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Area student musicians shine during North Platte Community College's Best of the West Music Festival
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Area student musicians shine during North Platte Community College's Best of the West Music Festival

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Students from small schools across the region experienced the excitement of performing with a large select choir and band on Monday.

The Best of the West Music Festival took place at North Platte Community College, and 63 high school band and 57 choir students came together for the workshop.

NPCC music instructor Kristin Simpson organized the event.

“I love having all the high school students on campus,” Simpson said. “A lot of them are from very small music programs, so it’s really neat to get them together with a lot of their peers.”

The students came from Brady, Chase County, Hershey, Southwest, Gothenburg, North Platte St. Patrick, Stapleton and Dundy County-Stratton schools.

There are a number of honor bands east of North Platte, but Simpson said NPCC is centrally located.

“To be able to provide something that’s similar for these students, who are just as amazing, is really nice,” Simpson said.

Another purpose, Simpson said, is to get high school students on the NPCC campus and showcase the college’s music department.

Stapleton junior Jared Trimble said it is a great opportunity.

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“It’s been a lot of fun to sing with a big choir,” Trimble said. “Normally, I’m used to singing with a small choir.”

Trimble sings bass and this is his first year participating in choir at his school.

“I didn’t really want to do it, but here I am doing it,” Trimble said. “It’s a lot more fun than people would think.”

Luke Ekdahl, a junior at St. Patrick High School, said it was good to sing with voices from other schools.

“You can tell the people are stronger and practice more,” Ekdahl said. “It’s good just to try and achieve their level and get better.”

He said he learned how facial expressions can help when singing.

“Definitely I’ve gained in confidence and how I sing,” said Mariah Duran, a Stapleton freshman. “I’ve been involved in music for a long time.”

After rehearsing all day, both groups performed Monday evening at the McDonald Belton Auditorium. Also performing with the high school groups were the NPCC Jazz Band, the NPCC Concert Choir and the NPCC Women’s Select “Knightengales.”

Jennifer Winder directed the Best of the West Band and Simpson directed the choir.

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